Based in the heart of Mexican state Oaxaca, Zicatela is now home to an architectural marvel, an open-air living space inspired from the design of ancient Aztec temples. Behind the project, architect Ludwig Godefroy and furnisher Emmanuel Picault wanted to create a modern countryside retreat for a client who wished to escape Mexico City.

Inspired by the monolithic features of ancient Aztec temples, the holiday home is set on top of a hill surrounded by the beach on one side and mountains on the other. Designed to reflect its surroundings, it boasts a strong protective shell, juxtaposed with a breezy coastal interior.

Access to the home comes from two wooden doors – one to the garage and the other to the main entrance, a garden courtyard framed by stairs that ascend onto the building’s roof. Beyond the garden is a covered patio which houses a kitchen on one end accommodating a large, low table made from a section of a tree trunk. Bedrooms sit either end of a small swimming pool in an open-air garden with sliding louvred screens that can be used to close off the living area.

“The house is a bunker on the outside protecting a Mexican pyramid on the inside… It uses a typology of defensive architecture, where a wall surrounds the terrain completely,” said Godefroy, “helping to create a 100 percent controlled area on the inside and turning it into an open-air fortress with only one main view towards the sky, the only permanent element in time.”